Compassionate Caregiving: The joy of food

Laura Nissen. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Laura Nissen. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Laura Nissen. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Laura Nissen. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

A good meal is one of the simple joys of life.

Food is the foundation for energizing our bodies. It’s a way in which to get out and about to see friends and family. It can bring people together, provide a sense of adventure, demonstrate family traditions and offer a sense of great comfort.

A dedicated and skilled caregiver can position food as a joyful experience to enrich the experience in life.

Consider the following tips as you plan the menu for you and your loved one.

Do it together Whenever possible, complete

meal-planning and brainstorming together. Involve your loved one as much as possible. Ask what sounds goods to them? Plan the meals and the shopping list together, if you can. If possible, go grocery shopping together. When it comes time to prepare the meal, involve your loved one in little things, like setting the table. Or, if time and energy is more abundant, prepare the meal together.

Keep healthy snacks easy to grab Think about things that are easy and “on the ready.” You could plan to have cheese and crackers, fresh vegetables and fruit or yogurt and nuts available. Snack foods are easy to keep around and require little time to prepare. The most important thing is to have snacks that offer nutritional choices and all times throughout the day.

Use your creativity As we become older, it is harder to get excited about the same flavor profiles. Look for flavorful options and invest in whole and fresh ingredients. Find the spices that elicit positive responses. Find new and creative recipes that you haven’t had before. Design a mini adventure to have a picnic once a week or have breakfast on the porch.

Call in help when necessary As we all know, caregiving can be very demanding depending on what is going on at the moment. We would all be very wise to know when to call in the reinforcements. One kind of reinforcement is a frozen meal every now and then. Another reinforcement is to pick up take out occasionally. Finally, maybe you can cater a meal in from the grocery store. Or, perhaps you have a friend or family member who can throw together a tasty casserole. Know in advance whom you can call on in a pinch.

Stay hydrated

with healthy drinks and water This often is overlooked in caregiving. Make sure that you and your loved one drink plenty of refreshing fluids throughout the day to keep you body healthly and hydrated.

Food and drink can add so much to our lives. Take advantage of all the wonderful foods that life has to offer. Enjoy it with each other, friends and family. And remember abundant variety is the spice to every meal.

Laura Nissen is an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer who enjoys advocating for those with memory disorders. She works with families to help them learn the skills of caregiving. She also serves as a community educator, caregiver support group leader and Memory Café leader for the Alzheimer’s Association.

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